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Jingū Taima Video

Toyama Prefectural Jinjachō created a short TV advert last year to encourage people to get Jingū Taima, and it was shown a couple of dozen times on television within Toyama prefecture. It’s only fifteen seconds long.

Jingū Taima are the ofuda from the Naiku at Jingū, in Isë, which enshrines Amaterasu Ōmikami. The Shinto establishment believes that every household in Japan should have one, and has been running campaigns to achieve that constantly for as long as I have been involved in Shinto, and for some time before. Alas for them, the number of households nationwide continues to rise, and the number of Jingū Taima distributed continues to fall.

Toyama bucked the trend this year, with an increase of 370 in the number distributed, even though the number of households in the prefecture is falling (as people move to Tokyo, to simplify the causes somewhat). This seems to have been due to a concerted campaign, including this advert, and around 45,000 large leaflets distributed through supermarkets and similar places in the run-up to New Year.

The background music for the video is by a singer-songwriter from Toyama (norico, as credited on the video itself). The goal was to appeal to people with young families, and I think the choice of images is interesting. I have little more inside knowledge, but I would like to make some comments.

 The woman who appears at the beginning is approximately the target age. Women are more likely than men to be involved in Shinto, particularly in that age group, which is probably why they chose to have a woman here. The opening scene is presumably somewhere in Toyama Prefecture, and representative of the largely rural region.

This is followed by a forest, again for associations with nature, and with the sacred forests of jinja. Rice, which comes next, has very strong associations with Japanese culture and agriculture, as well as with Shinto. I am not aware of any particular associations for the kingfisher, but they are bright and colourful, and continue the associations with nature.

The woman praying in front of the rising or setting sun is a striking image, but also references the connection between Amaterasu Ōmikami and the sun.

This is followed by the appearance of a Jingū Taima, scrolling up the screen, and then displayed on an ofuda stand, along with a couple of omamori. The slogan says “Kurashi ni, Inori wo”, which means “Prayer in daily life”, roughly. The article about this in Jinja Shinpō (March 14th — you knew there had to have been one, right?) does say that they deliberately decided not to show a conventional kamidana, with a miniature jinja on it, because they wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to get a Jingū Taima, without feeling that they needed to make elaborate preparations. In many modern Japanese flats, it is hard to place a conventional kamidana somewhere where you won’t bang your head on it, or, indeed, find space at all. Thus, they present a simpler version. The ofuda stand shown in the video is apparently available for purchase from the Inami Woodcarving Cooperative, but I can’t find it on their website. Maybe they sold out. The two omamori are for safe childbirth (the white one) and for wisdom (I think — it says “chië mamori” in hiragana, so it could be a pun and mean something else). The jinja names would be on the other side, so it is not easy to link them to particular jinja.

The almost total lack of imperial imagery in the advert is interesting. The Shinto establishment, after all, pushes Amaterasu Ōmikami as the ancestor of the Tennō, but the only reference to that is in the Jingū Taima itself. The writing on it includes the kanji for the “nō” of “Tennō”, which means “imperial”. (It also includes the “ten”, but that is part of the name of Amaterasu Ōmikami in this case.) I think that their judgement that emphasising such associations would not help their case is accurate.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the state taking over the distribution of Jingū Taima, and so Jinja Honchō is really pushing the topic. I will probably write some more blog articles about it in time.

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